Native Youth Leadership Alliance

(Mariana Harvey & Sophia Kizilbash) Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians: Taking care of ourselves IS taking care of our communities

Our leadership is not just for the here and now; we lead for long-term generational community change.   As a NYLA community, we are focused on action, but it is action grounded in our values, connected to root causes, and flows from collaborative relationships with each other.  NYLA’s vision is to revive leadership and community change that comes from creativity and focusing on what is possible together; not from a place of lack or reactivity.

NYLA Fellowship ModelThe foundation of collaborative leadership starts with us, with our wellness as individuals.  In the NYLA community we practice goal setting and action focused on our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellness and balance.  This is the foundation from which everything in our communities and world grows.

How do we take the time to care for ourselves, when our communities have so many needs?  We need each other’s support to come together to move from surviving to thriving in our leadership.  Across Native communities, youth populations are booming, and our elders are not reaching their full life span from lack of access to nourishing foods and healthcare.

NYLA Northwest Fellows shared our inspirations on our journeys to health and wellness as the foundations of our leadership at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) Winter meeting on the Lummi Nation earlier this year, in partnership with the ATNI Youth Committee.


Over 100+ Tribal leaders from across Northwest Indian Country were inspired to invest more deeply in their own health and wellness, and wrote out their bold commitments to grow their health and wellness (inspirations from some below!)    The connection was made, that by investing in our own health we are investing in the health of our own communities and in our future.  We must model this deep value of wellness for our communities.



Tribal Leaders Standing up for Healthy Communities:

What is more radical? Making a big shift in the way we eat…or opening your chest for a multiple bypass heart surgery? (paraphrase) 

In support,Brian Cladoosby, Chairman of Swinomish Indian Tribal Community posed this powerful question to put the need for our wellness into perspective.  It may be a long way to go to regain balance, but through our collaborative relationships of support and community, we can restore the health and vitality our ancestors had and carry the leadership forward to our future generations.

Please join our wellness leadership movement!  What are your commitments to health and wellness?  What actions steps will you take, starting today?  What support do you need to honor these powerful commitments?


Here are some commitments from NYLA & leaders at ATNI

My commitments to my health and wellness are….

  • To work on my emotional, physical, spiritual self to be here for myself and family. Let go of negatives and work to be positive. Share any traditional knowledge, teachings with family. Learn something new everyday.
  • I commit to protect our lifeway’s that our ancestors assured for us. To protect our natural resources and environment.
  • Learn more of our Waashat songs.
  • To get our youth back in the canoes for healthy futures!
  • Quit drinking soda, pop, energy drinks. Daily walking, running, be healthier for grandkids and eat better.
  • Growing natural produce and native foods for my family and community, hiking, stay close to Native land and resources. Avoid GMO foods and protect our water.
  • Listen, but not to gossip, say no to gossip. Drink one cup of water everyday. Walk more, stress less.


  • photo (62)photo (61)